Recently, the Sustainable Endowments Institute released the College Sustainability Report Card for 2011. Its findings are a key barometer in assessing how universities in all levels across all fields are doing to maintain green practices.
The report evaluated 322 schools around the country and graded them based on administration, climate change and energy, green building, recycling and others. Overall, over half the schools finished with a grade of ‘B’ or better, with six percent earning a ’D’ grade, the lowest available. Obviously the eventual goal would be to have no school with lower than a ‘C’ grade, but for now reducing the amount of ‘D’s would be a good start.
Climate change and energy had 42% of the schools awarded with ‘A’ grades. However out of the five most important categories, it was the fourth lowest amount of the report’s highest grade. Fortunately in future years that number should increase as already two-thirds of schools have commitments in place to reduce carbon emissions, with 79% of schools identifying the sources and tonnage of carbon emission. This shows that while they may not have plans in place to reduce emissions just yet, schools are aware of the size of their carbon footprint and with awareness, action tends to follow.
In the administration category, over 80% of universities have an ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade meaning they scored high marks for having sustainability actions in place at the administration or trustee level. Signing agreements or partnerships in place locally, nationally or internationally scores high points in this category as does green purchasing policies. Furthermore, 95% of schools have a campus advisory committee on sustainability. These committees, which are made up of staff, faculty and students advise administration on sustainable practices the school should be aware of.
There is much good that is being done on campuses around the country based on this report, however at the same time there is much work that still needs to be done. We’ll continue looking at the report card and the good and not so good news that came out of it in a later blog posts.